The Thing Is: Andrew Regan - Business News - Business - The Independent

The Thing Is: Andrew Regan

The last time The Independent on Sunday team saw Andrew Regan, the businessman cleared of theft charges last week, he was surrounded by his entrepreneurial friends and a bevy of female beauties.

He was sitting with Michael Basso, who runs clothing supplier Pan World Brands, at the Deloitte & Touche/Indy 100 awards for fast-growing companies in April. Their table rang with raucous laughter. But Mr Regan was quick to ring our office the next morning to assure us he had gone straight home that evening.

The married father of six was understandably edgy, after six years of high-profile controversy involving the theft case, where he was accused of masterminding the corruption of two executives at the Co-operative Wholesale Society. He must rue the day in 1997 that he decided to pursue the audacious £1.6bn bid for CWS, now part of the Co-operative Group which owns the Co-op bank and retail chain. He saw an opportunity to break up the ailing mutual and make a fortune. But the Co-op's private investigators discovered two directors had been meeting Mr Regan illicitly, prompting the collapse of the bid and the Serious Fraud Office probe.

The trial that ended last week was the SFO's third attempt to try Mr Regan for the alleged theft of £2.4m from Hobson, the food supplier he managed, in order to bribe two Co-op executives to secure a lucrative contract for the company. Allan Green and David Chambers are now in prison for each accepting a £1m bribe, and it was alleged by the SFO that Mr Regan knew the money was intended for illicit purposes.

But the SFO failed to convince the jury of this - a jury that had to be given round-the-clock police protection after a mysterious attempt at "nobbling" that had halted the second trial. There is no suggestion Mr Regan was involved, but he endured eight days in Pentonville while police investigated the allegations. There he was "surrounded by drugs" and told not to go into the exercise yard or risk being "done over."

The judge was forced to tell the jury to ignore the impression police protection could give. The jury believed Mr Regan when he said he had thought the £2.4m was a brokerage fee to the intermediary, Israeli businessman Ronald Zimet. Mr Zimet was best known in the UK as chairman of Scoot.com, the internet directory company that soared in the dot-com boom then crashed and burned.

It was Mr Zimet who was the key prosecution witness. He alleged Mr Regan had masterminded the bribery attempt. But he was given immunity if he would testify, and the defence rounded on his credibility as a witness.

The use of such witnesses has been common in SFO trials. For example, in the Guinness case, the company's former finance director, Olivier Roux, a key prosecution witness, was slated by the defence counsel, who alleged that he had made up his story in order to gain immunity from prosecution. Mr Roux denied he had been given any such deal, and the prosecution was in the main successful in the trial.

The method has worked in a false accounting case against the chief executive of oil firm Alliance Resources, but the SFO is likely to review the practice after the expensive failure of the Regan trial. It is estimated it could have to pay two-thirds of the defendant's costs, as much as £2m.

An intriguing question is what he will do with his millions now his name has been cleared. Son of the highly respected Roger Regan, who ran the Spring Ram bathroom company, he made £3m on his 30th birthday when he sold Hobson to Hillsdown Holdings for £121m in 1995. The deal came shortly after he renewed the infamous contract to supply the Co-op.

His spokesman says he is relaxing with family and friends and will take two months before deciding what deals he wants to handle.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Sport
Tito Vilanova passed away aged just 45
footballThe club's former manager died in April, less than a year after he stood down
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
newsBut just how much does a 122-carat coloured diamond go for these days?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week